Tradeshows are often one of the most significant expenses in the marketing budget. There is a lot of up-front planning and effort, but often the trade show follow up is lacking.
It’s that time of year again, the hustle and bustle of trade show season is upon us. Whether you’re back from Dreamforce or another top industry event, your team most likely put a lot of thought into planning—from identifying the right event, to thinking through pre-event email campaigns, incentives to drive booth traffic and sales meetings, and so much more.
But what happens when you get back to the office? While it might be easy to simply shift into planning for the next event, it’s critical to focus on trade show follow up. As much, if not more thought should go into your strategy for how to creatively engage and follow up with the prospects you met at the event to ensure a positive ROI.
Here are six tips to help you get the most of your event spend with better trade show follow up.
Trade Show Follow Up Tip #1 – Clean Your Data
While trade show lead capture solutions have improved significantly in recent years, it is often a challenge to ensure that all the data that is important to you is captured when you scan a lead. Even if your team does a bang up job of adding additional fields on the scanner to capture critical information like—how hot, warm, or cold the lead is; if the contact is a decision maker; what other solutions they are using or evaluating, etc.—there is often a lot of clean up to do when you get back to the office.
So the first step when you return back home—or even better, if you can start the process while your team is at the conference—is to start scrubbing your list. Identify duplicate scans, identify if the contact or account already exists in your database, and if so append the existing contact or account with the data you have from the event. Also, identify if you are missing critical information that will impede your follow up success, phone numbers or industry for example. If so, consider appending your data using a third party tool, a few to consider are Zoominfo, SalesPredict, Hoovers, and Lattice Engines.
Trade Show Follow Up Tip #2 – Determine Your Trade Show Follow Up Strategy
Before you even leave for the trade show, plan out your follow up strategy. You’ll want to send at least one email from marketing within days of the event, thanking people for stopping by your booth, and reminding them of your message to trigger who you are and why they stopped by.
Remember they probably visited several other sponsors at the show, not to mention a handful of sessions and parties, so consider adding something to help jog their memory—for example, a photo of your booth, a video of the in-booth presentation you gave.
Also, make sure you have an agreed upon qualification process established to determine which leads you’ll send to sales. Establishing this upfront will give you a chance to think about the data filters you’ll want to apply and the types of data you’ll need to collect during the event if possible.
Trade Show Follow Up Tip #3 – Prioritize Leads For Immediate Sales Follow Up
Don’t just think through your marketing follow-up efforts but your sales strategy as well. Some of the piping hot leads might require attention from your sales team as soon as you get back, while other cold leads might be better off getting marketing emails from you for a while until they show signs of buying. If you have a lot of new leads that need a call—a good problem to have—consider sending them to sales in batches to match the urgency of the opportunity and capacity of your sales team. And if a contact is already a part of an active opportunity, make sure you have rules built into your CRM to ensure those contacts rise to the top of the assigned sales reps’ list for a callback after the event.
A sales acceleration solution like Velocify can help increase the capacity and consistency of follow up with leads after an event. Velocify can apply distribution rules to make sure the right salesperson is assigned to work the right leads. And once the lead is assigned, Velocify can ensure the optimal contact strategy is followed for the best results—the right number of calls, emails, and social touches happen at the right intervals over a set time-period.
Trade Show Follow Up Tip #4 – Train Your Sales Reps
Depending on the conference and who your company sends to work your booth, you may have a situation where the sales reps following up with trade show attendees aren’t the same people that they met onsite. Make sure to bring continuity to the situation for the prospect by properly training your sales reps.
Sales leaders, invite your marketing lead and a few of the booth staffers to your sales meeting to share key takeaways from the event. Also spend time walking through the suggested live script and voicemail script with your sales team. And finally, make sure your CRM serves up ques for your sales rep so they know that the reason the lead coming up for a call back is because they visited our booth at a recent event and talked to your colleague “Bob.” If you can put the talking points or script directly into the CRM, even better.
Trade Show Follow Up Tip #5 – Get Creative to Drive Post Show Momentum
I mentioned the importance of taking a creative approach in tip number two, but it’s important to mention it again. Before working at Velocify I was a public relations professional for 12 years and email in particular was a critical form of communication with journalists. But because of the competition for a journalist’s attention, nearly every email was painstakingly analyzed, reviewed by four or five people inside the agency and then sent to our clients for further input. We would do everything from tie back to current events, to include jaw dropping stats that would wow the reporter. Anything we could think of to get them to stop what they were doing and take notice of what we had to say.
Sales and marketing emails aren’t that different, yet the reality is there is a lot of mediocracy out there. If you are running a trade show follow-up campaign, stop for a moment and think about how you can stand out. You just spent tens of thousands of dollars, an hour of brainstorming with your team to create a stronger post trade show impression is definitely worth it. Maybe supplement that email with a blog post, a photo album of pictures you took at the event, or a video.
And for your sales reps doing post-event emails, make sure they leverage the notes that were so painstakingly entered into your CRM and take a more personalized approach. Here’s what a difference it can make:
Non-personalized and all about “ME”
XYZ is a sales tool that has helped thousands of sales teams transform their sales processes. I’d like to show you how we can help you meet your revenue goals in the coming year. Let me know when we can set up a time for a demo of XYZ product.
Personalized and all about “YOU”
I heard you dropped by the XYZ booth last week at Dreamforce and spoke to my colleague Bob. He said you’re building out your sales development team and are looking at technology to help you scale your sales process. I’ve helped similar sales leaders that are in a position just like you and would love to see if there is a chance we can help out. Let me know what a good time would be for a quick chat.
Also, I thought you might be interested in the blog post that includes tips for how to build out a successful SDR team.
Whatever creative tactic you take, make sure to think about your audience and what they would appreciate. There is no one-size fits all approach.
Trade Show Follow Up Tip #6 – Encourage Everyone to Follow Up
It’s easy to get caught up in new business but your company likely sent more than just your sales and marketing teams to the event. Think about your account team and the customer engagement they conducted onsite, or your business development (BD) team and all the new partner connections they made.
This bigger marketing force is critical to tap into. It is possible that your account team and BD teams can benefit from some of the same post-show communications you are using with prospects. It can never hurt to share the emails you are sending to them. Also, encourage your entire team to connect with everyone they met via LinkedIn and then make sure all new business contacts are input into a shared database, even if the contacts aren’t a prospect.
Fewer than 70 percent of exhibitors have any formalized plan or process in place for how leads are followed up, according to a 2010 study conducted by EXHIBITOR. In an era of automated lead nurturing it is safe to say the situation is improving, however, just because we can blast every trade show lead the same tired email message instantly upon their return to the office doesn’t mean we should.
For your next event, try putting extra thought into your follow-up strategy, working hand-in-hand with your marketing team. Just a little additional effort applied to a custom strategy will help you stand out from your competitors and close more deals after the trade show.
Alyssa Trenkamp is the director of marketing communications at Velocify and a 15 year veteran in the enterprise technology sector. Prior to Velocify, Alyssa spent nearly a decade as a marketing and public relations consultant for Microsoft. Alyssa holds a BA in Journalism from Western Washington University.